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Former Highline Hotel Worker Hired at Swanky UES Hotel

By Mathew Katz | June 6, 2013 6:30pm
 Crutchfield, one of many who did not meet the Highline's "criteria" is now working at a five-star hotel.
Marshall Crutchfield said he was hired at the swanky Mark Hotel after being laid off from the Highline.
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CHELSEA — A worker laid off with nearly 20 colleagues from the Highline Hotel after Hurricane Sandy — and not re-hired because owners said he was not qualified to work at their newly swanky inn — landed a gig at a 5-star hotel on the Upper East Side.

Marshall Crutchfield, 38, worked at the Highline, formerly known as the Desmond Tutu Hotel, for more than three years as an auditor, managing the hotel at night and dealing with its finances.

Crutchfield was let go after Sandy, when the hotel closed down for repairs and renovations to transform it into a higher-class establishment. He was promised his job back, but then the owner reneged.

Tyler Morse of MCR Development, one of the hotel's owners, told DNAinfo.com New York last week that the former staff that re-interviewed — including Crutchfield — did not meet the "specific criteria" of the hotel.

"It's not the same caliber of hotel," he added.

"The idea that we're not qualified...it's a lie and a shame to this community," Crutchfield said.

"I moved on to a five-star hotel with rates that are several times higher than the Highline. I'd hire any of [the former Highline Hotel workers] back in a heartbeat."

But Crutchfield was good enough for managers at The Mark hotel, on the Upper East Side. A stay at The Mark range anywhere from $625 to $4,495 a night, where rooms at the Highline cost only $275.

Workers at the hotel were laid off after Hurricane Sandy flooded the building. Several said they worked overnight in hazmat suits to clean out the hotel's destroyed basement, only to be canned afterward.

Others worked overtime to make sure the hotel's few remaining guests were comfortable in a building without power and could get home after the storm.

For Crutchfield, who is from New Orleans and lived through Hurricane Katrina, that was the biggest slap in the face.

"I cannot imagine a community who would allow a company to fire everyone who worked through the hurricane," he said.

"This is a team who won five star ratings online — frequently — for their service."

Morse pledged to re-hire the workers when the hotel re-opened in May — a promise that Community Board 4 required when determining whether or not to recommend the hotel's liquor license.

Many of the Crutchfield's colleagues are only now just starting a job search as their unemployment insurance runs out — since they were expecting to be re-hired at the Highline.

"They knew what they were doing when they let us go," said Angel Cortes, who worked as a houseboy at the hotel.

The board has since considered the broken promise a betrayal, and has asked that the owners return before its Business Licenses and Permits Committee this month.

"This developer has acted in bad faith right from the get-go," said board member Pamela Wolff at a Wednesday night meeting.